Research finds engineers negotiate differently than non-engineers

Business News | 14 Apr |

A recent study by Barry Goldman, associate professor of management and organizations in the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, seeks to determine whether or not engineers differ from non-engineers in their approach to negotiation 

“Many engineers identify negotiation as a significant aspect of their work,” says Goldman. “Through this research, we hope to identify specific ways in which engineers may differ in their negotiation-related skills and preferences.” 

Goldman and his co-authors, Dylan A. Cooper, MVS School of Business and Economics California State University, Channel Islands and Cagatay Koc, of Northern Trust, focused on four distinct areas of negotiation: distributive versus integrative negotiation, emotional intelligence, perspective-taking and persuasive tactics of arguments versus active listening. 

“We found that as a group, engineers are generally more conscientious, goal-driven, competitive and less people-oriented than non-engineers,” says Goldman. “This has significant consequences for how they engage in negotiations.”

Goldman points out that gender may play a role in these findings—women compose somewhere between 7-21 percent of those in engineering, which may account for at least a portion of the differences in how engineers react to negotiation. 

The implication of this research points toward engineer-specific trainings on negotiation approaches. The research also helps open up additional questions about the varying approach to negotiations undertaken by others in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) industries.

The research has been accepted under the title “An Exploration of Whether Engineers Differ from Non-Engineers in their Approach to Negotiations” in the International Journal of Conflict Management. Goldman is available for news stories and on-air segments in-studio or onsite to further discuss findings on this topic.

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